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"As a father, I'm grieving for three children who are still alive."

I am a father of three beautiful children. I have no relationship with any of them. But I am not absent from their lives by choice.

My ex-partner and I separated in 2016. From that point onwards none of our lives would be the same again.

This is not a story of mudslinging. This is not a story of a messy divorce. It is a story of unconditional love. And what unconditional love means to me.

Following our separation, I was immediately denied contact with my children by their mother.

I now realise that I was in a toxic relationship. Something had to give. You can only hang on in such relationships for so long. People remain in toxic relationships for many reasons.

I paid the ultimate price by choosing to opt out of this relationship.

“When I knew it was time for a divorce.” Post continues after video.

For the two and a half years after the divorce, our case remained active to services and the family justice system. My ex-wife was issued with numerous court orders to facilitate contact. And to permit the engagement of psychological interventions for the children. All court orders have been breached.

There was denigration of my character in front of the children. And most damaging, the children were informed by their mother that I had left them all.

I felt powerless. I spiralled into a state of depression. I spent more than $45,000 on legal and court fees in the hope of seeking justice. My children’s mother must have spent a similar amount in keeping me away from the children.

I cannot control the behaviour of my ex-wife. No more than I can get to my children to tell them I have not rejected them.

Just prior to closing the court case, the court agreed for me to attend the former matrimonial home once a week. The court’s light-handed rationale was that my children would come down and meet with me.

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The first week I attended, their mother ordered them downstairs. All three of them stood in front of me. My middle child ‘T’ was the spokesperson. ‘T’ was aged 12 at the time. He articulately informed me that all three of them wanted to move on with their lives. He then carried on talking in an emotionally blunted manner. He concluded his statement with the words that they wanted me to leave them all alone.

A social worker was present. In response to ‘T’s’ heartbreaking rhetoric she remarkably and insensitively stated: “Well that was progress.”

This was not progress at all. What I had seen was evidence of children having been turned against a loving parent. By the other parent. And with no justification.

I continued to attend the family home weekly for another month or so. On each visit, my children ‘refused’ to come down and see me. Each week I sat in the kitchen, with my ex-wife’s back to me. I would sit there for approximately half an hour. I would take a colouring book. I would sit there and colour in some pictures. And at the end of every visit, I would leave the pictures for the children. I would also leave them a handwritten note from me. Reminding them that I love them and that I will always be there for them.

During these visits, I made some observations. Someone had removed all photographs of me from the house. Any former evidence of me having been part of the family had been removed. I had been erased from the lives of my children.

"I continued to attend the family home weekly for another month or so." Image via Getty.

Interestingly, there remained a large framed picture hanging on the kitchen wall. I had purchased this for my ex-wife several years ago. In the toilet, there was my music related pictures still hanging on the wall. My ex-wife has my favourite song as her ringtone. I have come to the conclusion that any mementos connected to me, my ex-wife has kept. But our children have no connection with me left in the home. It has all been removed.

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Facing life’s adversities with love

I love being a dad. But, I now find myself grieving for children that are still alive.

As a result of the above circumstances, I now live with depression. This has taken me to the darkest of places. Places in my mind I never believed I would go.

I understand that being erased from my children’s lives results in depression. But, understanding this does not lessen the pain I feel every day.

It is the love I have for my children that keeps me going. I know that despite their claims of wanting me ‘to leave them alone,’ they all still love me.

Ironically it is the unconditional love I have for my three beautiful children that causes me such pain.

But it is also the love of the close circle of friends and family that keeps me strong enough to function.

The love I receive from my friends and family has made me stronger. It enables me to face life’s adversities. This love may not prevent me from being knocked down. But it is this love that enables me to get back up every time. Dust myself down, and carry on.

It is the same love that has enabled me to grow. To discover skills I never knew I had.

The same love informs me that we are all alive for a finite amount of time. And whatever life throws at us we have to stand up and face it. And be as strong as we can.

Life does not always go according to plan. Life can be cruel. But it is always beautiful. There is always beauty and love around. We just need to look for it.

I love you ‘B.’ I love you ‘T.’ I love you ‘G.’ I will always be your dad. And I will always be here for you.

This article by btg-dad was originally published on Medium's PS I Love You and was republished here with full permission.

btg-dad is an alienated parent of three beautiful children. He is a part-time psychiatric nurse and part-time writer. btg-dad is an online advocate against parental alienation. He uses his knowledge of mental health and lived experience of parental alienation to advocate and lobby for reform of the flawed family justice system. btg-dad writes extensively on many subjects; mental health, parental alienation, personal growth and more. You can find btg-dad’s content on MediumLinkedIn and Twitter.

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